The Shmooze

What Bibi Really Wants To Tell You

By Jesse Lempel

Want to know what Benjamin Netanyahu really wants to say? Jesse Lempel offers an unvarnished version of the Israeli premier’s message to American Jews

To My Friends in the U.S.,

After receiving my congratulatory phone call and delightful shmooze with my close friend President Obama, I have chosen to reach out to you on the pages of my beloved Jewish Daily Forward.

Now let me cut to the real talk.

Some of my critics have cited my “outright rejection of a Palestinian state” and “racist rant against Israeli Arab voters” as evidence that I don’t deserve to represent Israel. What nonsense.

Yes, I said that there won’t be a Palestinian state under my watch and I warned Israeli voters that Arabs were being bussed to the voting booths by leftists. So what? I live in reality, and the reality of the Middle East is far different from Europe or America.

I look around and see an inherently unstable Middle East, with states disintegrating one by one and radical Islam on a rampage. So why should we believe a Palestinian state would be different?

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Sarah Palin Congratulates Bibi

By Ron Kampeas

(JTA) — Sarah Palin has not one but two posts on her Facebook page congratulating Benjamin Netanyahu on his reelection. Maybe two makes up for none from President Barack Obama.

In each post Palin says Americans in the heartland “will sleep better knowing Bibi remains the voice of reason and strength in the beautiful nation of Israel.”

Bibi elicits a lot of reactions in Israel and abroad. Sleep, though, has to be a new one.

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Why Jon Stewart Is Really Mad at 'Racist' Bibi

By Anne Cohen

Jon Stewart is kind of mad at Bibi. Not so much for winning this week’s Israeli election, but rather for how he won.

“How dare you gin up racist fears of minority turnout for short-term political gain? Stewart said, referring to Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear-mongering campaign, warning that Israeli-Arabs were out voting in droves.” “That’s our thing! You know what? Now you’ve got a copyright infringement suit on your hands, pal!”

Our favorite Jewish funny man (* sob * Don’t leave us Jon!) had a word or two of advice for U.S. politicians: Want to win? Take a page out of Bibi’s election tactics book.

“You know that stuff you say in private, your core beliefs, your prejudices that you try to hide from people because you fear society would shun you?” Stewart said. “Well, it appears all you have to do is turn into that skid.”

Following a montage showing a bunch of confused people asking why President Obama hadn’t yet called to congratulate Bibi on his win, Stewart quipped: “You don’t call, you don’t write, I win an election and I have to sit by the phone?”

Watch the whole clip below:

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Hadash Mocks Bibi's 'Arab Vote' Comment With Amazing Meme

By Anne Cohen

Earlier today, Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “concern” over what impact the high turnout rates in Israel’s Arab communities could have on the election.

So the Hadash party, one member of the Joint (Arab) List responded with an amazing “Game of Thrones” meme. (For those of you who haven’t gotten around to watching this gem of a show — Get to it! — the text plays off an oft repeated quote from the show: “Winter is Coming,” and superimposes Bibi’s head on Ned Stark’s body.)

Well played.

[h/t Times of Israel]

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Chuck Norris Endorses Bibi

By Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — Could Chuck Norris come to Benjamin Netanyahu’s rescue in tomorrow’s election?

Probably not. But that didn’t stop the 75-year-old action hero-turned-Internet-meme icon from endorsing the Israeli prime minister on his official Facebook page. You can watch Norris’ video endorsement below:

Norris shilling for Netanyahu is far from surprising. The actor has endorsed the center-right politician in the past and once said that while “you might think I’m a tough guy from my films … Israel has its own tough guy and his name is Bibi Netanyahu.”

Over the past three decades, Norris has also donated over $30,000 to Republican politicians, including Mike Huckabee, whom he endorsed for president in 2007. In 2012, he warned the public that reelecting President Barack Obama would bring on “1000 years of darkness.”

When dealing with Norris, the star of the show “Walker Texas Ranger” and several action movies (three, including “Delta Force,” as Norris notes in his latest Facebook post, shot in Israel), it is often hard to parse reality from the wildly popular memes he is now associated with.

However, when it comes to Netanyahu, it seems Norris is serious.

Fellow conservative actor Jon Voight joined Norris in backing Netanyahu on Monday, saying in a video on Mike Huckabee’s Facebook page: “Those like Yitzhak (Isaac) Herzog who believe that deal-making is the solution to what Israel faces are as wrong as Neville Chamberlain believing he made a peace deal with Hitler.”

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What Did Jon Stewart Think About Bibi's Speech?

By Dave Goldiner

What did Jon Stewart think about Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress?

It’s kinda NSFW, so you better watch the video.

Apparently, the late-night funny man was not impressed with the multiple standing ovations that Bibi received from the Congress. He wasn’t amused by all the soaring rhetoric about Iran, either.

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Need a Baby-Sitter? Bibi's Your Man

By Anne Cohen

It looks like Benjamin Netanyahu has a new career path lined up — you know, in case the Israeli elections don’t pan out.

A new campaign ad released Saturday shows a couple getting ready for a night on the town. The doorbell rings. It’s the baby-sitter. Or is it?

“You asked for a babysitter, you got a Bibi-sitter,” says a smirking Netanyahu. “Where are the children?”

The parents, understandably confused as to what their country’s prime minister is doing at their door, ask Bibi why he should be the one to watch over their children.

It’s either me, or Tzipi and Bougie,” he replies, referring to Zionist Camp’s Tzipi Livni and Issac Herzog. Oh, no! Not them. The parents shake their heads, demonstrating their mistrust.

Herzog needs his own baby-sitter, the dad jokes. Zing. And Livni? “By the time you get back she’ll probably go over to the neighbors,” Netanyahu quips back. (Livni has skipped to and from four political parties).

The ad conspicuously shows no children. Netanyahu’s previous campaign ad, which showed him as the only adult in a kindergarten class full of children named after Israeli political leaders (subtle, Bibi, real subtle), was banned by the Central Election Committee. Showing children under 15 for political gain is a no-no.

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6 Things Barack Would Rather Do Than Meet Bibi

By Dave Goldiner

It’s no secret that Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu don’t like each other. Not one little bit.

So leaving aside the political and diplomatic drama of the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to Congress (you know, the one they somehow forgot to mention to the White House), the president will have a few hours of time on his hands some day whenever Bibi finally comes to town.

We’re guessing there are so many things Obama would much rather be do than sit for yet another smile-pasted-on photo op with Netanyahu. Here’s our six top suggestions.

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What If Miss Israel Photobombed Others?

By Lior Zaltzman

Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, made headlines this week after allegedly photobombing a selfie Miss Lebanon was taking with Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan and posting it on her own Instagram feed. In doing so, she may have tapped into a new peace-brokering technique. So, what if she did it to others?

To test the theory, we imagined Doron into other situations in dire need of her conflict resolution skills.

One thing Bibi and Obama can definitely agree on.


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Push Your Way to Front Like Bibi

By Ben Sales

(JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a knack for embroiling himself in political sideshows during foreign memorial services.

He entered Israel’s latest tempest in a teapot earlier this week, attending the march for victims of France’s terror attacks even though French President Francois Hollande asked him not to. Israeli media outlets are now reporting that Netanyahu pushed his way past other world leaders so he could get to the front of the crowd.

Among his previous funeral-related controversies: When British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died in 2013, Netanyahu came under fire domestically for installing a $127,000 bed on the plane for his five-hour flight to the state funeral — right when he was trying to pass an austerity budget.

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Bibi's Youngest Son Joins the IDF

By Anne Cohen

Benjamin Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu with sons Avner and Yair on election day in 2013 // Getty Images

Avner Netanyahu waved goodbye to mommy and daddy Netanyahu on Monday, as he began his military service in the Israel Defense Forces.

Proud papa Bibi was there to see his youngest son off, along with wife Sarah and son Yair, who has already completed his own military service. According to the Times of Israel, Avner was offered a position in the military’s media corps but chose to serve in a combat unit.

The Israeli prime minister, who served as an officer in the Sayeret Matkal commando unit, assured the other worried parents that really, he gets it. Keep calm and carry on.

“We are moved just like every mother and father who watch their son go off to the army,” he said. “We are full of pride and naturally worry. Everyone knows this, every home in Israel, and we are no different. I told Avner to take care of the state and to take care of himself.”

“I wish success to all the soldiers who are being inducted today and to all the parents who are feeling the way we do — calm down, it will be okay,” he added.

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Bibi Has the Veal — With Sheldon on the Side

By JTA

Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had lunch in a Midtown Manhattan restaurant hosted by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson following his address at the United Nations General Assembly.

The lunch for five people required ever customer of the restaurant to enter through a metal detector, Page Six reported.

Netanyahu arrived at the restaurant, Fresco by Scotto, with some 30 security guards, the New York Post’s gossip page reported Monday. It also reported that the prime minister ordered veal chops.

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Beyonce Meets Bibi in J Street Campaign

By Anne Cohen

Queen Bey, meet Bibi.

A J Street campaign called “Put a Border on It” is applying Beyonce’s admittedly flawless rhetoric to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

The organization has been tweeting out a poster advertising their petition calling on Benjamin Netanyahu to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank. The slogan plays on the chorus from “All the Single Ladies” which goes “if you like it then you should have put a ring on it,” replacing it with “if you like it you should have put a border on it.”

“Countries should only build within their recognized borders,” the petition reads. “Instead of announcing new settlements, Israel should announce its commitment to peace: offer a serious proposal for a secure border between Israel and Palestine, recognized by the entire world. Israel needs peace; the Palestinians need a state. It’s time to put a border on it.”

In case you felt the need to sing along, they’ve also helpfully provided appropriate lyrics.

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Bibi's Matzo Deemed Kosher After All

By Julie Wiener

(JTA) — Was Benjamin Netanyahu’s handcrafted shmura matzah thrown out after he so publicly rolled it, patted it and put it in the oven this week?

That’s what several Israeli media outlets are claiming, with some speculating that the Kfar Chabad matzah bakery that hosted the prime minister’s videotaped baking spree trashed his unleavened bread because is not Orthodox.

Not true, say Chabad officials. A New York-based spokesman for Chabad told JTA that not only were Bibi’s matzahs not disposed of, but that they are perfectly kosher and are in a box bound for some lucky person’s seder table. (They’re unmarked, so don’t bother searching for it so you can auction it on eBay.) “One of the guys at the bakery told me, ‘I’d be happy to bring the matzah he baked into my home for Pesach,’” the spokesman, who did not want his name used, said.

The reason for the matzah misinformation?

According to Haaretz, one non-Chabad hared Orthodox media outlet, Kikar Shabat, wrote that “matzo is supposed to be made by people who follow the way of Torah.” That site, in writing about Bibi’s matzah factory visit, referred to him as “the architect of criminal sanctions,” a reference to his support for drafting haredi Orthodox Jews into the Israel Defense Forces.

Adding to the confusion is that according to the Chabad spokesman, some other matzahs from the batch made during Netanyahu’s visit did end up in the garbage can because, what with large number of journalists and photographers crowding around, not all the matzahs met the shmura matzah standard, which requires “that you could account for everything it came into contact with, from harvest to baking.”

That’s the way the matzah crumbles.

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Stephen Harper Serenades Bibi With 'Hey Jude'

By Ben Harris

(JTA) — On his first trip to Israel this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hit all the expected stops for visiting dignitaries. He went to Yad Vashem and the Western Wall, picked up an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University, and laid the cornerstone for a bird sanctuary that will soon bear his name.

But he also took a moment to do something that is apparently his trademark: performing a rocking rendition of “Hey Jude” as a beaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, look on. When he announced his intention to visit Israel at a JNF fundraiser in Toronto in December, he performed for a full 35 minutes.

His audience in Israel wasn’t nearly so, um, lucky.

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Bibi's $1,700 Scented Candle Bill

By Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Israel’s first family seems to like its creature comforts. The prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem spent $1,700 on scented candles and more than $4,200 on wine in 2012. There was also some $2,600 spent on mezuzahs.

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Meet the No. 2 Israeli on Facebook

By Anne Cohen

Courtesy of Meytal Cohen
Meytal Cohen

For her 30th birthday, Meytal Cohen is achieving every struggling artist’s dream — she’s sticking it to her family.

On August 9th, Cohen’s Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for an original album will come to a close. With only three days to go, she has almost doubled her $60,000 goal and has 2,519 backers.

But Meytal Cohen isn’t just anyone. With 391,953 fans as of this morning, the Israeli transplant to the U.S. has more Facebook likes than both President Shimon Peres (162, 625) and model Bar Refaeli (203,642), and trailing only slightly behind Benjamin Netanyahu (460,756), making her what newspaper Yediot Aharonot called “the second most liked Israeli on the Internet.”

For this heavy metal drummer who rose to fame on Youtube — her videos have been viewed over 65,000,000 times — it’s a dream come true.

“It’s very humbling, I don’t know how [it] really happened. I’ve been shooting and uploading, note for note drum covers of my favorite songs/drummers for the last 3 years now,” she told the Forward in an interview. “I feel I have this huge data base of drum grooves and fills, and now it’s time for me to take all that I’ve learned from my favorite drummers and create something new.”

Excitement over her upcoming project aside, Cohen’s enthusiasm stems from newly found support from family members, impressed that she is achieving her dream on her terms.

This wasn’t always the case.

“My dad was killed by a drunk driver while he was standing on the sidewalk when I was in second grade, and my mom raised us all by herself,” she explained. “It was very important to her that we all go study and have a ‘serious profession that you can actually make a living of off’ so she wasn’t happy with[my decision to be a musician]. My entire family consists of lawyers, and doctors and I would get calls on a daily basis asking me if “’I’ve made it yet.’

Their attitudes changed after Cohen made it onto a front page spread in Yehidot Aharonot, one of Israel’s largest newspapers.

“It definitely helped me with my family. Suddenly I was in the newspaper and my mom was [talking about my number of followers] like it was the first time she ever heard it,” Cohen laughed. She said ‘Do you get how much that is? ‘ Like, she’s telling me.

Cohen first got into metal in high school, when her first boyfriend gave her a mixtape (Aw…). But being a female heavy metal drummer has its ups and downs. On the one hand, the surprising combination is part of Cohen’s appeal to viewers, who see a feisty woman playing an instrument traditionally associated with the John Bonhams of the world. On the other, she often has to push against stereotypes.

“Before I did Youtube I would go to audition and I felt like there was a lot of pressure for me, almost like I was representing the female gender,” she said. “It stressed me out. I didn’t want to play the stereotype and I felt that if I wasn’t good enough I was ruining it for women everywhere. “

As an Israeli, Cohen must also walk a thin line. Though she gets positive comments from fan all over the world, from Europe to South America, she also deals with haters who tell her to “go back to Auschwitz.”

Nevertheless, Cohen says she will push forward and remain vocal about her identity. “I’m proud and always very public about being an Israeli and the fact I served two years in the IDF, she said. “I am who I am, and I’m not trying to hide it. From 3 years of reading YouTube comments, I can guarantee that you can never make everybody happy…so I try to focus on the people that are.”

We would expect nothing less from the second most liked Israeli on the Internet. Bibi better watch out — Meytal Cohen is gaining on him. Fast.

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4 Biggest Snafus of Barack Obama's Israel Trip

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Well, it’s over. After three days of meeting, greeting, cheering, and even a heckle or two, President Obama has bid adieu to Israel. While the overall trip was successful, we couldn’t help but round up the some of the more, ahem, entertaining moments.

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#ObamaInIsrael Has Its Own Pinterest Page

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images
President Obama, on the second day of his Israel trip.

Social media loves a good diplomatic visit. Pictures abound, attempts at speaking other languages often fail, and the agonizing possibility that something will go horribly wrong — like a car breaking down, perhaps? — makes for great third party commentary.

All of you avidly following President Obama’s trip to Israel this week will be happy to know that the visit now has its own Pinterest page, called “The Unbreakable Bond: #ObamaInIsrael.”

Run by Israeli volunteers of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy, the page features 18 boards and 198 pins showing everything from the Jerusalem preparations and the President’s arrival at Ben Gurion airport, to Obama and Bibi tasting matzo while checking out robots at the Israel Museum.

All that’s missing are nifty DIY recipes for him to try out while he’s there. Don’t worry though, we’ve got him covered.

Watch Obama say how happy he is to be in Israel — in Hebrew:

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Tuesday's Shmooze Celebrity Roundup

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Sunday’s Emmys were a font of Shmooze celebrity news. First off, Mayim Bialik made Jewish moms and dads everywhere kvell at the awards ceremony on Sunday night when she gave a shout out during a red carpet interview to popular parenting blog, Kveller.com.

Did you notice that “Two Broke Girls” star Kat Dennings was slouching all evening at the Emmys? Apparently, it was to ensure that her ample bosom did not pop out of her über-low-cut stunning scarlet strapless gown. “No matter what I do they’re there, so…‬,” the actress joshed. Denning’s date, boyfriend Nick Zano’s main assignment was to prevent a wardrobe malfunction. “He has been alerted to the possibility of emergency and he’s always primed and ready,” she said.

Gideon Raff, the original creator of the Israeli series “Hatufim,” on which Showtime’s “Homeland” is based, was on hand to receive the Emmy for the best writing in a drama series. He accepted it along with Alex Ganza and Howard Gordon, the American show’s executive producers.

In her acceptance speech for the award for outstanding actress in a drama series, Claire Danes showed off her guttural pronunciation skills as she acknowledged her co-star Mandy Patinkin. “Challah!” she exclaimed after mentioning Patinkin’s name. Was this some inside joke? Or maybe a reference to the round variety of the traditional Jewish bread we eat on the High Holidays? Speculation abounded on Twitter.

In other news, the Jewish Council for Education and Research’s “Let My People Vote” video ad starring the Sarah Silverman has quickly topped the political charts.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s PDA fest continued this past weekend. The pair were spotted canoodling in various spots around the Big Apple.

Israel is expecting visits from Chuck Norris, who accepted an invitation from Likud MK Danny Danon, as well as from RedFoo (the guy with the big hair and oversized glasses) of the recently broken-up LMFAO.

Full frontal? No prob. Max Greenfield, who plays Schmidt on “New Girl,” says he’s ready and willing to portray Christian Grey in the upcoming film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

In sad news, it was announced that Bonnie Franklin has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Gen Xers, in particular, will recall that Franklin, 68, played mom to Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips’ teenage characters on the “One Day At A Time” sitcom from 1975 to 1984.

Finally, as the Day of Atonement descends upon us, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres are making a conciliatory gesture…at least for Kol Nidrei. The two will pray together on Erev Yom Kippur at a Jerusalem synagogue close to the President’s official residence.

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